I gave a talk to the Boy Scouts recently on the virtue of reverence. The 12th and final point of the Scout Law reads, “A Scout is reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.”
Reverence comes from the German ehrfurcht and the Latin vereor, both of which combine the two words, ‘honor’ and ‘fear’. When we are reverent, we step outside of ourselves and recognize the profundity of the thing before us. It could be a mountain, a work of art, or even a baby. We pick up on the beauty of the thing and, more significantly, that it originated in Beauty itself. It was not random chance that created the symmetry of a brilliant red maple leaf. It was God. We see this, stand in awe of it, and ultimately bow before it. This act of submission is virtuous. Dostoevsky once said, “A man who bows down to nothing, can never bear the burden of himself.” It benefits us to be reverent. We break the self-absorption that is inimical to reverence, and are able to be impacted by nature, people, and God. Without reverence, we would never be amazed, and life would be a lot less enjoyable. For it is good to be amazed.
Reverence is important for the Scout because the Scout ultimately must react to the world. If he is going to survive in nature, he must acknowledge nature's powers and his own limits. If he is going to thrive in society, he must see the intrinsic goodness in his fellow man and respect that. If he is going to live forever, he must embrace God and allow God to embrace him in Heaven.